Marois and Peladeau shift PQ campaign away from independence

PQ leader and star candidate brush off Quebec sovereignty questions

ST-NICOLAS, Que. – Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois is suddenly trying to steer her campaign away from the theme of independence, just one day after musing about what a post-secession Quebec would look like.

Marois and star candidate Pierre Karl Peladeau refused to answer several questions Thursday about Quebec sovereignty or any future independence referendum.

The PQ leader told reporters she’s running an election campaign, not a campaign on the future of Quebec.

“When Quebecers go to the polls on April 7, they will be voting for a government,” Marois said.

Peladeau, meanwhile, brushed off sovereignty questions by saying he preferred to talk about the economy, which was the subject of their campaign event outside Quebec City.

Their sudden aversion to discussing sovereignty comes after Marois spent several days describing specifics of an independent Quebec — such as retaining the Canadian dollar and keeping the borders open.

The apparent shift also comes just a few days after Peladeau’s splashy entrance into politics, when the owner of Quebecor Media Inc. (TSX:QBR.B) drove his fist into the air and proclaimed his lifelong passion for Quebec sovereignty.

“Today, we’re talking about the economy, we’re talking about entrepreneurship,” a more-reserved Peladeau replied Thursday to one of the questions about independence.

The new approach also followed the release of poll results Thursday morning that suggested the pro-Canada Liberals have gained ground in the Quebec City area at the expense of the third-place Coalition party.

The Leger Marketing survey of 643 respondents, which was taken March 11 and 12 for Quebec City’s FM 93.3 radio station, found the Liberals to have opened up a lead of seven percentage points over the PQ in a region that has traditionally supported federalist parties. The poll has a margin of error of 3.86 per cent 19 times out of 20.

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